Ebola vaccine 'provides 100% protection'

New Ebola vaccine 'provides 100% protection' against extremely lethal Ebola strain.

Tags: Vaccine Ebola
Chana Roberts ,

CDC Ebola safety course in Alabama
CDC Ebola safety course in Alabama
CDC course

Researchers have successfully developed an Ebola vaccine which may be vital in preventing further epidemics of the deadly disease, wrote The Lancet medical journal.

The new vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV, successfully prevented all 5,837 volunteers from developing the Zaire ebolavirus. In contrast, among a group of the same size which was not vaccinated, 23 new Ebola cases were reported.

The Zaire ebolavirus is the strain of Ebola responsible for most human infections with the virus.

Ebola, which is related to the similarly lethal Marburg virus, has five main subtypes. Though the new vaccine does work against the most common Ebola strain, it does not work against the other four subtypes.

The new Merck-manufactured vaccine was tested using the "ring" method, in which both contacts - and contacts of contacts - of Ebola patients were vaccinated against the disease. Each "ring" included about 80 people.

The vaccine includes the vesicular stomatitis virus, which harms cattle but not humans, as well as an Ebola virus surface protein. However, the vaccine is not yet problem-free, since it often causes joint pain and headaches. In addition, one of the subjects developed a high temperature.

Effects of the new vaccine on children are still being investigated.

The vaccine's inventors are now seeking government approval for the vaccine, and hope to have it fully licensed by the end of 2017.

Meanwhile, 300,000 doses of the vaccine have been made available in preparation for the next Ebola outbreak. These vaccines were funded by the Global Vaccine Alliance, at a cost of $5 million.

Lead researcher and WHO scientist Marie-Paule Kieny told the New York Times, "When the next outbreak hits, we will not be defenseless. The world can’t afford the confusion and human disaster that came with the last epidemic."

Guinea's Director of the National Agency for Health Security Kelta Sakoba said, "Ebola left a devastating legacy in our country. We are proud that we have been able to contribute to developing a vaccine that will prevent other nations from enduring what we endured."

The Ebola virus is spread by direct contact between people, as well as from contact with an infected person's bodily fluids. The Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in 2013, quickly spreading to both Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ebola later spread to other countries as well, such as the UK and US.

In October 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended Israel for sending experts to aid Africa's fight against Ebola. In November 2015, the World Health Organization declared Sierra Leone free of Ebola, but cases still develop in neighboring African countries.